For the past few years we have all been measuring very similar things in terms of our e-mail marketing efforts: How many e-mails have I sent out, how many clicks did I receive, and how many new customers did I acquire.
While this is all very useful, it is leaving out one of the most critical elements – the brand ROI achieved. Instead of just measuring clicks to sales why not also measure views to sales?
HTML-enabled e-mail clients (those inboxes that can view images within the e-mail messages) are now used by more than 80 percent of all Internet users. This fact has lead to the dominance of HTML e-mails sent out by marketers. Sending HTML e-mail not only is more aesthetically pleasing, it has allowed marketers to analyze open-rate tracking. Open rates are simply the amount of HTML messages that are opened after they have been sent out. This is all possible because when a recipient opens an HTML e-mail, specific calls are made to the servers that are hosting the HTML images contained within the message.
Open-rate tracking is fine, but it does not go far enough. How many times have you received an e-mail message, were interested in the product or service, but chose not to go to that site at that particular time? Perhaps later on that same day you found that extra free time and you went to the site to learn more about that great offer.
The problem that most marketers face in this situation is that when these prospects return to the site they are not clicking on the URL from the e-mail sent out, they are typing in the generic company URL. This potential customer has no idea that they are crushing all attempts by the marketer to track the effectiveness of the e-mail messages that were deployed just a few hours before. That is where brand ROI in e-mail comes into play. It is not only possible to now track these events, but extremely easy.
When e-mail marketers send HTML e-mail, they can give recipients cookies upon these messages being opened for the exclusive purpose of view-to-sale tracking. Separate cookies should be used for click-through tracking. This will allow for the separation of click-to-sale versus view-to-sale tracking. By placing your action tags on the back-end pages you hope to track down to, you will be able to understand not only how many sales you have achieved from your efforts, but by what means did these sales get generated.
Basically what we as marketers strive to do is associate as many sales as we can to particular marketing initiatives. This allows us to gain an understanding of what works and where dollars need to be spent.
View-to-sale tracking can account for an additional 10 percent to 25 percent on top of your response achieved from click-to-sale tracking. That is a significant portion of attributable sales that previously went unaccounted for. E-mail marketing, especially prospect e-mail marketing, can be expensive. This new tracking component allows marketers to establish a greater return on investment.
Upon implementation of this new technique, it is essential to establish a realistic brand ROI window. If I receive an e-mail but don’t visit the site until two weeks later, did that e-mail really initiate that site visit? Probably not. When setting up this tracking, shrinking the window to a period of 12-48 hours is generally best.
To some this may sound very obvious, while to others it may seem too technical. The good news is that any major e-mail transmission company can set this up with minimal effort. This type of tracking takes place everyday in the banner ad-serving environment. The reason it is all coming to surface now is because we have finally achieved the critical mass of those individuals who can view HTML within e-mail messages.
Incorporating brand ROI tracking into your e-mail marketing programs is easy, cost-effective(charges should closely follow the costs associated with adding an extra click-through to a message), and will yield results that can only further the ROI generated on the e-mail marketing programs that you have put in place.